While the Atlanta Falcons believe that they can shock the world and contend in 2021, not many people around the city or around the NFL are buying that. Once the Falcons finalized the trade sending Julio Jones to Tennessee, the team was essentially left for dead.
Can the Atlanta Falcons be the surprise team in 2021, of course, they can but for that to happen, the Falcons defense is going to have to make gigantic strides to give the team a chance.
Eight of the teams 12 losses in 2020 were by one possession or less – possession is defined as eight points and in several of those games, the Atlanta Falcons had a lead in the fourth quarter, so it’s easy to understand the optimism that guys like Matt Ryan and Arthur Smith have heading into 2021.
CBS writer Jason La Canfora wrote an article on each team’s make-or-break players (and coaches) who could determine their team’s fate this season and his choice for the Falcons was an interesting one.
Atlanta Falcons have high hopes for their fourth overall pick
Given the Atlanta Falcons offense has not been a problem for the last decade, it’s odd to see La Canfora say rookie playmaker Kyle Pitts controls the make or break aspect of the franchise in 2021 and not someone on defense like Deion Jones or AJ Terrell.
Head coach Arthur Smith obviously saw something in Pitts to want him that high (general manager Terry Fontenot obviously agreed) but to say that an offensive rookie on a team whose defense gave up more than 400 points in 2020 is the reason that they will sink or swim is comical.
While La Canfora says Pitts is his choice, the reasoning sounds more like he believe Matt Ryan is the team’s make-or-break player in 2021.
"“This team thinks it can still contend, and he should get a heavy target-share after the Julio Jones salary dump. It won’t be enough to offset a bad defense, but it could go a long way to determining how long Matt Ryan sticks around.”"
According to the Atlanta Falcons, players will report to training camp on Tuesday, July 27th, and will have their first training camp practice on Saturday, July 31st. There is still a little more than a month remaining to debate the impact that Kyle Pitts will have in 2021 but regardless, he won’t be the main reason if the franchise misses the playoffs for the fourth straight season.